The Institute - June 2020 - TI14

snake robots and racing them. Serrano
creates the obstacle course, which has
a curvy trajectory. She devises a theme
for each session, such as military combat.

The students use blueprints to build
their robots. Components include a DC
battery, temperature and sound sensors,
a Wi-Fi nano adapter, and a USB cable.

The students program and control their
robot using computational platform Matlab and simulation software Simulink.
They conduct experiments to learn more
about their robot's speed to better
prepare it for the race.
The project takes about two
weeks to complete.
"When developing my program,
I didn't focus only on having the
students build the robot," she
says. "They also learn math concepts such as distance, time, and
how to calculate velocity."
After the race, the students prepare a presentation and a poster
to explain what experiments they
conducted and why.
Serrano says one of her most satisfying moments is learning that
one of her students has decided
to pursue a STEM degree because
of the program.
Of the 15 high school students
who participated in the first STEM
Beyond the Borders session in 2016,
nine went on to study engineering at
Universidad Tecnológica de Panamá.
Since then, Serrano has taught
close to 100 students through her
As the demand for sessions and
locations grows, Serrano is developing new ways to bring the program
to more students across Panama.
She created CIATEC, which lets
students access her Mindstorms
course as well as a session on building circuit boards using Arduino,
an open-source electronics platform. CIATEC incorporates the
Spanish words for science (ciencia), art (arte), and technology

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JUN 2020



19-FA-032 01/20


This article originally appeared
online as "Victoria Serrano Helps
Panamanian Students Discover
STEM Through Lego Robots."

The Institute - June 2020

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